UPDATE: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Cordero would prefer to return to the Reds.
8:15 PM: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier this afternoon that the Red Sox have “increased dialogue” with free agent closer Francisco Cordero. Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears similar information from his sources, but he was also told by Cordero’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, that his list of potential destinations has been narrowed down to four teams who are willing to give multi-year contracts.
“With the interest we’ve received, we’ve been exploring multi-year deals and we’re very confident that’s where we’re going to end up,” said Stringfellow. “The teams that we’ve spoken to, none of them have balked at that of the four remaining clubs.”
Stringfellow wouldn’t confirm the specific teams involved, but Speier writes that the Red Sox, Reds and Angels are believed to be interested. The Reds declined Cordero’s $12 million option for 2012 in late-October, but are interested in bringing the veteran right-hander back at a lesser annual salary.
Cordero, who turns 37 in May, posted a 2.35 ERA and 37 saves in 43 chances this past season, but he also had the lowest strikeout rate and velocity of his career. He at least adapted by increasing his ground ball rate and cutting back on the free passes, but a lucrative multi-year deal could be a big risk.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.